Transit options for the Region of Waterloo were debated at length before light-rail technology was selected instead of bus rapid transit. LRT offers the best long-term value for expanding the local public transit system. The region chose to use Bombardier as the supplier for the LRT vehicles based on an existing agreement Metrolinx had already approved. This agreement will allow the region to capitalize on a larger volume purchase, potentially reducing the individual cost of the vehicles, as well as the cost of spare parts and maintenance contracts.
This rapid transit service will shape the future of the community’s transportation system by bringing LRT in two stages. Stage 1 was expected to open in 2017, but was delayed to 2018 by issues regarding vehicle delivery and functionality. Stage 1 of the line includes a 19-kilometre LRT route from Conestoga Mall Transit Terminal to Fairview Park Mall Transit Terminal, with stops in downtown Kitchener, Grand River Hospital, UpTown Waterloo, both universities, and Waterloo Park. It also features a 17-kilometre route of adapted bus rapid transit (aBRT) from Fairview Park Mall to the Ainslie Street Terminal in Cambridge, with four stops along Hespeler Road. Stage 2 will see the BRT line converted to LRT, creating a seamless 37-kilometre service of 23 stops between Cambridge and Waterloo. Phase one was originally to open in late 2017, issues with the light rail vehicles to be used on the project has caused completion to be moved to spring or summer of 2018.